The tin foil hat conspiracy

Every time I tell someone that I don’t use Facebook or Whatsapp they can’t believe that a nerd such as myself doesn’t use essential nowadays’ tools. I then start passionately exposing my concerns and showing proof that what I’m saying is true and already happened and not just out my lunatic mind. At that point I’m already labeled as conspiracist and I’m told that I’m over exaggerating and I should put my tin foil hat back on.

The discussion usually ends there, but if I feel particularly inspired and insist long enough I ultimately get the classic “oh well, who cares. I have nothing to hide”.

That my dears, is the most utterly bullshit you can tell to yourself.

I have nothing to hide

I know you are not a terrorist but still you give privacy for understood in many aspects of your daily physical life. You expect it every time you go to the bathroom and close the door, you expect it when you go to the doctor or you confide to a close friend.

Saying that on internet you have nothing to hide is the equivalent of being okay at taking a dump in a glass walled bathroom with a very good acoustic.

Everyone has things that keep to themselves, things that only say to a special person, things that can be shared with close friends or family, things they talk only to a doctor and so on and so forth.

If in real life we have so many layers, why don’t we expect the same level of privacy on internet? We are giving to Facebook, Google, Linkedin and the others more information about ourselves than we give to our SO or even to ourselves (remember Google is investing in DNA mapping).

I believe there are three main reasons for that.

One. Internet privacy in intangible. You don’t see what you are actually exposing. Even if I told you that you are giving away info about yourself, you wouldn’t really believe me because after all you don’t see an imminent threat.

Two. We are used to the various internet services, many are born with them. It’s hard to believe that something you are using since you were born is not actually good for you. Which leads to…

Three. Most of the services are free, we rely on them and they are pretty darn good. This is the same old “if you are not paying for it, you are the product”. But that doesn’t really cut it. People don’t care being the product if their belly is full and if they do not see or understand the outcome.

Also, companies are making understanding and fighting for your internet privacy so incredibly complicated that users just give up and pretend that everything’s fine.

So?! Do you want to go back to the telegraph? This is another stupid argument that often comes out.

Of course not, I just demand clarity. I want to know exactly how, what and whom my data is given away to. I want to be able to stop certain entities from collecting my data in the same way I can close my bathroom door. I’m sure that if all the ways our data is exposed were made public, 99% of the users would take some kind of counter measurement to protect it.

Sorry for the rant. Thanks for your time, now share this on Facebook.

5 thoughts on “The tin foil hat conspiracy”

  1. I don’t use Facebook or WhatsApp either, or Instagram for that matter.

    • I have seen how the information that people post there has been used against them in the elections in the UK, the US and France (mainly by Palantir and Cambridge Analytica).
    • I have seen how the algorithms create profiles that predict your future behavior and how this data is sold to insurance companies, multinationals and employers. Yes sure, it’s supposedly anonymized but you know what, when they connect the profiles that these companies have built over time with the Facebook/WhatsApp profiles they find it very easy to make a match, and none of this is illegal. You might lose a job because of this, or miss out on a cheaper healthcare package, or pay more for your holidays or online shopping.
    • I have seen how Facebook and Instagram make people unhappy and feel worthless and lonely because their “friends” all look so perfect and have these wonderful (fake) lives.
    • I have seen how Facebook allows child abuse, misogyny, homophobia, and the live streaming of torture and even murder, and I don’t want to be a part of it, because I have a sense of what is morally good or bad.

    Especially with so many other tools to connect with your friends – tools that respect your privacy – there is no reason at all to use these platforms.

    I keep in touch with my friends (my REAL friends) through safe messengers like Signal but I prefer to see them for real, cause that’s what REAL friends do.

    1. I wish there were more people like you, my friend. Unfortunately we reached the point where people is not able to send an email, but can chat on whatsapp

  2. I was always under the impression that What’s App was totally encrypted, so that even if someone did access or leak the messages on the server it couldn’t be read without the two ends of the conversation…. not true? Or are you referring to the profile information rather than the coversations between parties?

    1. Your FB profile is linked to Whatsapp and metadata is not encrypted… and there goes your privacy (metadata can reveal enough information to show connections between people, their patterns, and personal information). It’s privacy we are talking about, not secrecy!

  3. Hi Matteo,

    I like your bathroom metaphor. To add some point more. If someone likes to take a shower and some other like to take bath. The bath needs more water and with the lack of privacy, the water company can distungish between a shower or a bath person. The bath person could be charged more in the future. Now thinking about this in context of health insurances and smart home in your bathroom… With increasing user data the smart pricing strategies will emerge much stronger than ever.

    Other aspects is the decreasing power of owner ship in digital world
    https://qz.com/766535/terms-of-service-agreements-are-destroying-the-concept-of-ownership-for-digital-goods/
    https://www.amazon.com/End-Ownership-Personal-Property-Information/dp/0262035014/

    However, I tried to summarize some more arguments why everyone has to hide something
    http://blog.derhess.de/2016/08/12/the-current-state-of-web-needs-a-counter-culture/

    All the best and thanks for your post
    Florian

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